Several months ago we reported on the efforts of faculty at Baylor University to shut down the recently founded Michael Polanyi Center for Complexity, Information, and Design. The center, established by administrative fiat at the behest of Baylor President Robert B. Sloan, Jr., under the auspices of the university's Institute for Faith and Learning, came under fire in part because Sloan had avoided traditional faculty channels. But it was clear from the outset that the debate over the center was driven first and foremost by intense opposition to the Intelligent Design movement; the director of the center, who had been personally recruited for the position by Sloan himself, was William Dembski, the most outstanding scholar associated with the ID movement.
In response to faculty criticism, Sloan called for an external review committee to consider the work done under the umbrella of the Polanyi Center and to make recommendations as to whether and how the center should continue to function at Baylor. Last week, on October 17, the committee's report was released. While its tortured language reflected bitter conflict (about which more below), the report nonetheless affirmed the "mission" of the center, as Sloan himself noted in a Baylor press release the same day.
Dembski, as the director of the center, also commented on the report in a one-paragraph e-mail message following its release. "The report marks the triumph of intelligent design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry. This is a great day for academic freedom," Dembski began. He concluded by observing that "Dogmatic opponents of design who demanded the Center be shut down have met their Waterloo. Baylor University is to be commended for remaining strong in the face of ...